This week’s reading continues to touch upon the importance of having a shared strategic plan between the national government and the institutions and also includes an analysis on various governance models that exist in higher education governance around the world. As mentioned in the OECD report, ensuring the quality of the outcomes of internationalization efforts for all parties involved (students, faculties/staff, institutions, governments, local communities, etc.) should be a priority of the decision-makers. The report focuses on what institutions should consider in various issues and aspects of internationalization of higher education, and for the most part, ensuring that any decision made towards internationalization efforts should be analyzed to see what the benefits and risks are. Even though that seems obvious, I think there is definitely a possibility that in efforts to catch up to institutions that are in the lead, some institutions may fall prey to all the various trends that may or may not be a good fit for that particular institution.
In particular, when it comes to recruiting more international students (which, in the US, definitely seems to be one of the go-to methods of internationalization, but probably more for financial reasons), the OECD pushes for a global effort to ensure quality education and the need for institutions and governments to evaluate the education offered to international students (which would subsequently lead to benefitting their local students I hope). With the continual chase to turn students into global citizens ready to tackle global issues in collaboration with other around the world through internationalization of higher education, it makes sense why the OECD report (class reading) highlights in multiple cases that working with the government and also finding the best fit institutions in other countries to form networks and collaboration relationships to generate new knowledge is ever more important for institutions looking to provide more in terms of helping their students and the institution become more globally competent and viable.
Specifically in regards to international students, the UK compiled a study on international student satisfaction to better inform the UK institutions on areas to improve and what strengths to continue to hone. In a majority of the measures of the study, UK institutions ranks number one and has seen an increase in satisfaction when compared to previous years. But despite the high level of satisfaction, there’s a stagnation in international student enrollment at UK institutions as compared to the US and Canada, which have seen a increase in international student enrollment. But it’s not entirely surprising because the study also found that the UK does not seem to utilize education agents as much to recruit students. And as mentioned in class discussions, the US, in particular, has increasingly utilized education agents (even providing commission fees) to continually increase its international student population, which might allude to why there’s been an increase in international student enrollment at US institutions. While the article goes on to suggest that maybe the UK should make more use of education agents to recruit more international students, I think the UK’s focus on ensuring its students get a quality education and experience is a better focus.
In this weeks reading, sustainability and quality issues for off shore campuses mentioned the huge financial responsibility campuses must undergo when deciding to create an off shore campus. An institution must have a lengthy time period that they wish to have an off shore campus as the initial financial burden is not seen to become of value until years later. Things that must be taken into consideration is funding for the campus and if the home campus is responsible or if they will be self sufficient, even though when starting this is not the case. In regards to the quality, most host and home institutions would like the accreditation of the home institution but the issue is being able to ensure the off shore campus can reach that same quality. It is mentioned that home campuses have little trust in programs that are offered at the off shore campus if the same programs are not offered at the home campus. I think this says a lot about the institution if they are unable to trust their off shore campus with their own programs. If this is the case in the strategic plan for the off shore campus they should be confined to only teach programs that are offered at the home country so their is not lack of trust. Language also comes into play if the host campus has another primary language than the home campus. This could provide a barrier for students who are coming from the home country to study abroad or if the home campus requires the off shore campus to teach their campuses in their native language. Lastly, faculty is a concern because there is a fear the faculty may not have the same educational background as those of the home country. I am willing to assume that this means they fear the educational background is less than those of the home country. This reading reminds me of our Altbach and Green articles we read the first week of class. I find this article very one sided as there could be faculty who have just a good background or better than those from American universities. Also, other readings have mentioned that not many countries feel that America has a top ranked education so though we feel out of shore campuses may lack in faculty with a strong educational background, that is just an opinion and not a fact. There are many countries and faculty who have studied outside of the U.S. that could qualify to teach at an off shore campus.
Branch campuses have always been an area of interest to me because it is a clear and physical indication of globalization and how our world is becoming more “flat”, as Friedman would say. I thought it was amazing that students could receive a higher education at an American institution without coming to the United States. Of course, there are financial issues when opening anything in another country; however, one aspect I did not really think about was the academic freedom differences. As the OECD report on internationalization policies suggests, institutions that pan on establishing branch campuses should consider the “political, legal and cultural environment of the offshore campus” and how it may or may not match the institution’s own environment. A case, like NYU’s Shanghai campus, really highlights this point.
Last fall, I read an article about NYU’s Shanghai campus and how the institution is an island of academic freedom and expression in the midst of China’s long-standing national censorship policies and how this impacts students. As critics note in the article “how can universities that prize open inquiry as a fundamental tenet find a home in an authoritarian country without compromising its views?”. The Chinese government has had a long-standing tradition in censorship and denying the freedom of speech to its people for many years. Websites like YouTube and Facebook are blocked; and terms that allude to the June 4th,1989 Tiananmen Square protests are censored from the public eye. But, students who attend the NYU Shanghai Campus are able to freely browse the web, as if they were in United States. So, Chinese students, who grew up in a censored society, are being exposed to this information now and are encouraged to be critical about the Chinese government in a public setting.Students that were being interviewed in this article talked about the cultural and political conflicts and isolation they faced when they left the campus and went home. One student said he felt like he lived in “two worlds”: one where he can express his critical political views and one where he must hold his tongue. In relating back to the Dobbins et al. reading we also had, China must have had a market-oriented approach to higher education because it invited NYU to Shanghai and hopes that the school will create graduates that can stimulate the economy. It is clear that these intentions are market-based and economic rather than political.
It is really interesting how the authoritarian chinese government allowed NYU to make its home in Shanghai. It will be even more interesting to see how this campus and most likely many other American campuses can change the political and cultural environment of China in the future. Recently, China has made its internet censorship policies stricter rather than loosen its grip. So it is interesting to see how this dynamic will play out in the future.
This week’s readings, particularly the OECD Higher Education Programme: Approaches to Internationalisation and Their Implications for Strategic Management and Institutional Practice, A Guide to Higher Education Institutions, brought some practical guidance and insight on the challenges of implementing internationalization whereas, to date, we have focused more on the evolution and theory of the concept. I personally appreciated the guidance aspect of the readings, because tangible implementation strategies that have been tested and well formulated are key to internationalization initiatives succeeding. While the European models of higher education reviewed in An analytical framework for the cross-country comparison of higher education governance (academic self-governance, state-centered model and the market-oriented model) were interesting and their intersections are instructive for non-European regions as well, I am not focusing on them for this blog post.
Instead, I take a closer look at the international branch campus (IBC) phenomenon as I thought the OECD paper had more concrete details on how to actually implement a successful IBC in an off-shore setting. OECD suggests five actions for institutions to consider when contemplating off-shore campuses (see pp. 14-18). First, the “genuine interests” of stakeholders in the higher education institution as well as the host country must be considered. Not focusing on the host country can lead to gaps in understanding between the institution and host country and unsuccessful implementation. Second, the host country’s legal and regulatory environment must be thoroughly vetted and the compliance costs must be analyzed. Without this component, the very survival of an off-shore campus can be threatened. Third, sustainable business models must be applied taking into account main divers. Fourth, have a viable plan for quality faculty recruitment and retention. Fifth, regularly monitor quality.
The above mentioned actions to consider may help mitigate some of the pause and caution with which off-shore campuses are progressing due to some high-profile failures and an earlier desire to be first to market without careful consideration of the OECD guide’s review of strategic management and institutional practice. For example, see http://monitor.icef.com/2015/10/a-more-cautious-outlook-for-international-branch-campuses/ which discusses a recent survey of European universities which found that IBCs were the lowest priority among 15 prominent internationalization strategies but despite that figure, the number of branch campuses worldwide is rising although perhaps with greater awareness of the financial and quality assurance issues discussed in the OECD guide. To me, a highlight of the OECD guidance was the observation that “in starting up and operating an off-shore campus, experience has shown that it is better to start small and expand incrementally.” (p. 14). Interestingly, while India may not be fully willing to let IBCs infiltrate its own shores, I was surprised to learn that it seems to be taking the OECD guide’s advice to start small and expand one by one in bringing Indian branch campuses to other countries. (see http://www.obhe.ac.uk/what_we_do/news_articles_reports/news_analysis/na_2015/news_analysis_3_22jan15). Perhaps, India will be well served to learn lessons from its own regional off-shore expansion to allow for other countries to being IBCs to India with the above mentioned actions underpinning implementation.
This week’s readings continued to further my understanding of the internationalization of higher education. Of the two readings for this week, the report entitled “Approaches to Internationalization and Their Implications for Strategic Management and Intuitional Practice”, focused on an area that I wanted to get more information about. These past weeks in class we have discussed the internationalization of higher education policy and programs in place across various countries. Most of the policies and programs we discussed were based at higher education institutions but we haven’t deviled into how institutions directly deal with the trend of internationalization; how are colleges and universities administrations incorporating internationalization into their management approaches? The OECD piece breaks down how higher education institutions can approach internationalization. It can be seen as a blueprint for institutions who wish to create or expand their strategic management to include internationalization.
Several connections are made between internationalization and topic/areas related to higher education. The internationalization through dual and joint programs would allow the students of higher education institutions the opportunity to study multiple subjects at the same time. An article in the US News and World Reports defines dual degree as “Dual degree programs show both degrees on a student’s diploma. The program is formally organized by the university and may involve a great deal of overlap to minimize time spent and cost…” and joint degree as “Some joint degrees combine two or more areas of study in two separate departments on the same campus or at two different universities, Kent says, and are interdisciplinary in nature. Joint and dual degrees are also common structures for international programs, some of which are conferred jointly by different universities in different countries, or conferred separately as dual degrees by international partner institutions.” Dual degrees programs seem to be similar to double majoring and joint degree programs are more synchronized than dual programs, there is a connection between the subjects you are studying. A student can potentially earn a dual/joint degree at their home country and spend a significant amount of time at their host school abroad.
The internationalization of joint and dual degree programs is directly linked to student mobility. Most student mobility is connected to credit mobility but if more joint and dual degree programs were established it could lead to further growth in student mobility. In order to help alleviate the risks that are discussed in the report, institutions must ensure that dual and joint degree programs are all round beneficial for all parties involved- home and host institutions, students and faculty/staff. An article in Business World discusses how the Indian government is pushing for international collaborations like dual and joint degree programs.
ICT assisting institutions in internationalization is another area worth further discussion. More and more universities and colleges are introducing or expanding the online presence of their classes. Connecting information and computing technology with the internationalization policies of higher education institutions can run into some of the same concerns that people have about MOOCs and fully online classes. However, a major advantage for ICT assistance in internationalization is that it could help with internationalization at home. It could connect the non-mobile student with international experiences or at least an international perspective. By using ICT to help with internationalization, universities and college understand the need to bring internationalization to all its students. Two articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education discuss the pros and cons of using MOOCs with regards to internationalization.
In order for ICT assistance to be successfully there has to be systems in place that would ensure that the benefits and skills that are gained through face to face instruction are still there for the students.